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China Hub: Turbulence Possible As Discussion Continues

While many Missouri leaders lined up in St. Louis this week to voice their support for the proposal, groups such as the Show-Me Institute argue that the government should avoid involvement in the issue.

Patch is pleased to partner with Brian R. Hook, editor and investigative reporter for Missouri Watchdoga news website dedicated to investigative journalism about local, state and federal government across Missouri. We've invited Hook to contribute a weekly column that describes what he's watching and why it's important for Missouri taxpayers.

Fasten your seat belts. Prepare for landing. Aerotropolis is on approach to St. Louis.

Aerotropolis is a plan that is designed to turn St. Louis into a global cargo hub.

According to an economic-impact study by the St. Louis Regional Chamber of Commerce and Growth Association, the missing piece of a multi-model infrastructure system for the St. Louis region is air cargo.

The $300 million in tax credits for warehouses around Lambert-St. Louis International Airport would generate $1.5 billion in new construction and would boost employment by more than 6,000 jobs, the RCGA reports.

The Republican leadership from the Missouri General Assembly flew into St. Louis on Wednesday to line up with political and business leaders from around the St. Louis region. They were promoting their new job-creation compromise plan, which would provide state tax credits for developers to build warehouses for air cargo.

Missouri Gov. Jay Nixon, a Democrat, landed in St. Louis on Thursday and announced his plans to call lawmakers back for a special session in September. One of his priorities is new infrastructure around the airport.

So is it safe to assume that Aerotropolis will land in St. Louis?

Not so fast. There may be turbulence ahead.

On the surface, it may seem like everyone is lining up in support. But there is opposition.

The Show-Me Institute, for instance, is on a mission to knock Aerotropolis out of the sky. The free-market think tank in St. Louis argues that the government should not be in the business of picking winners and losers.

In addition to releasing a case study that refutes many of the arguments from the economic impact study by the RCGA, policy analysts from the think-tank drove around the airport locating plenty of open warehouse space.

Plus, the person who literally wrote the book on Aerotropolis said the plan won’t work in St. Louis.

Greg Lindsay, author of “Aerotropolis: The Way We’ll Live Next” told the St. Louis Business Journal that the plan for more than $300 million in tax credits will not succeed in creating an international trade hub in St. Louis.

“Nobody asked me, but as the guy who wrote the book on the subject, I don’t think it will work there,” Lindsay told web editor Kelsey Volkmann, adding that “build it and they will come” will not work for airports.

Finally, will lawmakers from around Missouri give up their state tax credits for St. Louis?

We’ll see in September, and Missouri Watchdog will be watching.

For news updates, sign up for a newsletter and follow Missouri Watchdog on Twitter and Facebook. Brian R. Hook may be reached by phone at 314-482-7944 or by email at brhook@missouriwatchdog.org.

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